7 Important Decisions to Make Before Baby Arrives

How to feel as prepared as possible

How to feel as prepared as possible before baby arrives.

You're pregnant. You have a due date. What now? There are actually seven important decisions to make before baby arrives.

Every special event in life deserves thoughtful preparation. While you're waiting for your baby to arrive, you'll need to decide who will be directly involved in your "birth-day" celebration land take some practical steps to get ready for the big day.


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Here are the essentials you need to consider:

7 Important Decisions to Make Before Baby Arrives

1. Devise a Birth Plan

Although the vast majority of pregnancies result in normal, healthy children, a small percentage have some unexpected outcomes. So even as you anticipate a normal process of pregnancy, delivery, and recovery, it's wise to be aware of the variations in labor and options available to you.

Between 8-20% of low-risk pregnancies require some form of medical intervention. That means you should prepare yourself for both the best and worst scenarios and be willing to adjust your plans if some kind of medical intervention becomes necessary to provide a healthy outcome for you and your baby.

Discuss your plans with everyone who will be actively involved so they will know how to help support you in labor and birth. As you plan, seek to maintain a healthy balance between respect for birth as a natural, psychological process and the need for appropriate medical intervention.

2. Select a Pediatrician

You should choose a pediatrician by the eight month of your pregnancy. If the baby is born before you have made a decision, your obstetrician will refer you to one for the baby's initial evaluation in the hospital. Here are some action steps you can take to make your choice:

  • Evaluate your insurance coverage to determine which doctor you can select
  • Get recommendations from other mothers
  • Get a referral list from your obstetrician
  • Get a list of pediatricians who have admitting privileges at the hospital
  • Consider the location of the pediatrician's office
  • If possible, interview several pediatricians before making a decision

Remember: a good pediatrician takes time to teach parents about their children's health and is open to questions, not intimidated by them. There should be mutual trust and respect between you and your baby's doctor.

3. Stock Up

Start stocking up on items you will need prior to the baby's arrival early, before it becomes a difficult chore, and try to have it done by the eighth month. Take advantage of sales, and have enough on hand to last for six to eight weeks after the baby arrives.

Starting around the seventh month, make double portions when you prepare meals and freeze the extras in disposable containers. Purchase your postpartum supplies early. Most dads feel uncomfortable buying them.

If you're going to use disposable diapers, have plenty on hand. New babies go through them very quickly - 48-96 diapers a week! Complete the babies basic layette by the eighth month, and have all linens and clothing washed before his due date.

4. Pack Your Suitcases

You never know when your baby is going to be born. He may arrive four weeks early or two weeks late. Therefore, we suggest that you pack your suitcases three to four weeks before the baby's due date. You should pack three of them:

  • A Labor Bag to take with you to the hospital at the onset of labor
  • A Mother's Bag for someone to bring to the hospital after the baby arrives
  • A Baby's Bag for the trip home

Read this for tips for packing a hospital bag for baby.

Note: You must have an adequate car seat available for the baby's trip home. A soft, cushioned head support is also a good idea.

5. Finalize Your Birth Plan

Tour the hospital maternity ward by the eighth month of the pregnancy, and complete the admission papers for the hospital two or three weeks before your due date. Review your birth plan and discuss it with each of your doctors early in the eighth month. Be realistic and flexible. Review the hospital's policies regarding the options available for labor, delivery and recovery, and discuss any concerns and questions you have about circumcision with both your doctor and pediatrician.

6. Arrange for Help

You'll need help for at least the first few days at home after the baby arrives. It may be the new father, relatives, a neighbor, or experienced hired help. Think about the basic chores that will need to be done, and list the ones others can do (for example, basic housework, vacuuming, cooking, laundry). Discuss how to get help, how long it will need to be available, and them make arrangements for it.

7. Think Ahead

Complete a "to call" list. Include both business and home umbers. Anticipate special occasions, such as your mother's birthday, that will occur from one month before, to two months after the baby's due date. Shop ahead for gifts, cards and wrapping paper. Schedule all your major cleaning projects so they'll be done when your baby arrives, and work at completing them slowly so you don't feel rushed toward the end of your pregnancy.

While these seven decisions are very important to make before giving birth, there are certainly others to consider and even more questions to dig deeper into within the categories above. But if you start here, you'll find yourself as prepared as possible before your new bundle of joy enters the world.

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Excerpted with permission from On Becoming BirthWise by Anne Marie Ezzo, R.N., copyright Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc. You can learn more and purchase the book here.

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